Sunday, March 15, 2009

They can't all be perfect

The day started out great. I slept in, I went out for brunch to a great place with a good friend and after walking around a bit in the rarely beautiful Chicago weather we came back to my house so that I can bake the second cake in the Star Wars series for the same birthday boy...and this is where the problems started. I had an idea for a cake. I was going to make one of the ships, don't ask me what they're called, so I whipped up a batch of earl gray chocolate cake, poured it into a pair of ball pans and the leftovers into some mini loaf pans and went to chat with my friend. I checked in on my cake a few minutes before I needed to take them out and I was greeted by something reminiscent of a crusty Jabba the Hutt. It seems that my trusty recipe backfired and tried to escape the pans. I decided to switch tactics and try something simpler for a design, so my friend and I started scouring the internet for more ideas. Finding nothing inspiring we took off for the nearest Michaels...then WalMart...then Jewel and finally back home without much of an idea of where to go next and a pair of small toys to use just in case all else failed. I started over and made a batch of chocolate pound cake from the Art & Soul of Baking, figuring that it can't hurt to leave this in the hands of a true professional. The cake came out very dense and far so good, but it still needed to be decorated. At this point my friend had to go, seeing as how at this point we've already been at this for several hours, and I was on my own. The last resort option was a pair of crossing lightsabers, using the figurines to help the illusion that this was a credible solution to the problem, and I think it came out okay, but I think given slightly worse weather or slightly better luck, this could have been something great. Oh well, I guess Star Wars holds no sequels for me. Here's what came out of this whole ordeal:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Attempt at Star Wars

First of all, I am not a Star Wars geek. I liked the "first" couple way back when, but I don't know everyone's names, I have only seen each of the movies twice, and I actually don't remember too much about any of them. This made fulfilling my latest order kind of difficult. They wanted a Star Wars cake and on a pretty short notice. I did some research and found some truly amazing cakes...that would all be either way too big or way too time consuming for my purposes. I also found some pretty messy ones and some that gave me good ideas. I combined two designs that I found and sketched it out. I'm getting better at this whole "planning" thing, normally I freehand it and something usually goes wrong. This time, the sketch came out great (I think) but I think I started getting tired by the time I got to the actual cake because I made some pretty obvious mistakes. For the most part though I think the little guy really does look like R2D2 and he's pretty cute. Yep, he's definitely growing on me.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Purim!

This doesn't happen often, but I was inspired. Usually, on this holiday I am content with store bought Hamentaschen or, if I'm really lucky, my mom will make hers, but when I saw this post I knew I couldn't just sit idly by and let someone else have all the fun, so I "let it slip" to a friend that the holiday comes with cookies and she absolutely insisted that I make her some. Now that I was "cornered" into a commitment I was all set to roll up my sleeves and start baking. Laundry will just have to wait until a different day. I do still have clean clothes so it's not really urgent any ways.

First step was making the cookies themselves. The recipe was easy and straight forward and still I messed it up. I was trying to do things fast and ended up adding more butter than required. Quite a bit more. The cookies turned out delicious :) There was only one casualty where the folds came apart, but I dubbed that one the test cookie and moved on. The picture above is of the cookies while still in the oven. They looked so good I couldn't help sticking my camera in there.

Next up were the cupcakes. The recipe said that it makes 24, which I just don't know how to do, so I doubled it and ended up with a gorgeous, smooth and fragrant batter. This was the first time ever I tried a recipe like this and while somewhat lengthy, it was a great experiment and I'll definitely be making this again. The cupcakes came out light, spongy and moist. I filled them with some more apricot jam and brushed the tops as well to keep in the moisture and to hold the cookies. These were so much fun to make and came out looking fabulous. I can't wait to share these tomorrow and see what people say. Thank you Stef for a great idea and a wonderful recipe.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Catching Up

My computer has recently decided that it doesn't feel like recognizing any of the USB drives other than my mouse and even though I've been baking at least three times a week for the last two weeks, I have not been uploading any of the pictures. I guess I could have looked into this problem earlier, but like I said, I've been baking. So to catch up a bit I have some pictures of the Red Velvet cupcakes I took to the potluck party I went to on Valentine's day

It was a nice casual get together with a Southern food theme. There were amazing Red beans and rice, buttermilk fried chicken, mac-n'-cheese, and a very interesting stew. I thought that the red velvet cake, a Southern classic, would fit the theme perfectly, and I think they went over well with some people coming back for seconds :)

I made my Parrot cake for my boss's going away party. It's like a carrot cake, but it has shredded pears instead of carrots, making the cake extra moist and very flavorful. Unfortunately, I was running around so much I didn't have time to take any pictures. One of my co-workers snapped a few, but I still have not seen them, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

And finally I went to my very first fondue party this past weekend. It was really fun and now I want three crock pots of my very own. Everyone brought sweet and savory dippin's like bread, veggies, homemade angel food cake, homemade pound cake and fruit. After brunch we were going to watch 'Chocolat', but the DVD refused to cooperate and we ended up playing a board game instead, which ended up being even better since by that time everyone was in a food comma and watching a food-related movie would have put everyone to sleep. As my contribution I figured I'd make something to "munch" on during the movie, cake balls. I was trying to make cake pops like I saw on this blog, making my own cake and frosting instead of the store bought one, but I didn't have any lolly pop sticks or candy coating, so I ended up sticking with just the bon bon shape. They were delicious and the perfect over the top snack.

I have a growing list of things I'd like to try in the upcoming weeks as well as a few orders in the works, and now that my computer is being nice to me again I'll try to be more consistent with updates....I promise :)